A MAN who repeatedly hit a co-worker with a crowbar and then attacked a mental health employee has been handed a suspended sentence.

Jack Hockaday, 43, was working for Cala Homes on the Kings Barton development, in Winchester, when colleagues noticed his strange behaviour.

On January 9, 2019, victim Jamie Capon received a call that a member of staff had locked themselves in the show home.

Hockaday was seen dismantling a wardrobe and appeared to be generally calm, prosecutor Jane Rowley told Winchester Crown Court on Thursday.

“Mr Capon was concerned that the defendant had taken something or suffering from a mental health episode,” Ms Rowley said.

Hockaday’s attitude quickly changed and he struck the victim with a crowbar before Mr Capon managed to get him in a headlock.

The defendant grabbed his victim’s tie and was pulling it tight making it difficult for him to breath, before hitting Mr Capon over the head with the crowbar up to five times.

“[As a result of the attack] Mr Capon has arthritis to his right hand. A cut to his lip has not fully healed,” Ms Rowley added.

On arrest Hockaday was taken to Parklands Hospital, in Basingstoke, where he attacked a member of staff, Francis McGrath, on January 11.

He was attempting to leave the facility but was being stopped by Mr McGrath when the assault took place.

“Mr McGrath told him to stay back. Mr Hockaday stepped towards then swung with such force threw him across the office with his forehead hitting the wall.”

Ms Rowley said Hockaday was “suffering some psychotic and mental health problems,” adding that he had taken cocaine the day before the first offence.

Defending Daniel Reilly said his client was “acutely unwell” at the time of the offences.

“Mr Hockaday remained particularly unwell as a result of his hypomanic psychotic illness as it was diagnosed to be for some six to seven weeks.”

Speaking to Judge Susan Evans QC, Mr Reilly continued: “The effects of Mr Hockaday, as you accepted, having taken cocaine the day before is certainly not the main explanation.”

Hockaday, of Green Walk, Fareham, was said to be remorseful and has been making “consistent progression” with his mental health over the past 22 months.

During the hearing he pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful wounding and another of assault occasioning grievous bodily harm.

In sentencing Judge Evans said that if she sent Hockaday to prison there would be a “serious deterioration" to his mental health and on release he may be more of a danger to the public.

Instead she handed him an 18-month sentence suspended for 24 months and 180 hours of unpaid work. He must also undergo a 12-month mental health treatment requirement and 15 rehabilitation days.